Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition

Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Creating a powerful guiding coalition is perhaps the most challenging element of the Kotter model. I’ve written quite a bit here about the Kotter approach to leading change and I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series.  This post deals with that difficult Stage Two; forming a powerful coalition to lead and manage the change. Links to the other stages are in the next paragraph.

After 30 years of research, Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organisations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides the most credible way of delivering and embedding large-scale organisational change. This series of posts will consider his steps in greater detail. we have already reissued; Step One: Creating Urgency, Step Three: Creating a Vision for Change and Step Four: Communicating Your Vision.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon Lewin’s simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  The underlying principles are the same.

In a world requiring ultimate flexibility, an organisation’s ability to deal successfully with change is a key ingredient in its overall success.

Step Two – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition

No one person, however competent, is capable single-handedly of completing all the tasks required in leading a large organisation through change. The tasks include;

  • developing the right vision,
  • communicating it to vast numbers of people,
  • eliminating all of the obstacles,
  • generating short-term wins,
  • leading and managing dozens of change projects
  • anchoring new approaches deep in an organisation’s culture.

Putting together the right people to lead and manage  the change is critical to its success. It needs visible support from key people through-out your organisation. You must find the right people, instil in them a significant level of trust and develop a shared objective.

Those people need to have the right credibility within the organisation.  Otherwise things will go limp and the change will simply go to pieces and fritter away. This will leave the organisation weaker than it was before.

Create a  team of leaders and managers that can act in concert and make productive decisions. The decisions need to be taken seriously by all the group! Managers in the team will keep the process under control, while leaders drive the change. Some times people can both lead and manage but don’t assume you will find both talents in the same people.

An effective guiding coalition

An effective guiding coalition should have;

  • Position Power:  Enough key players on board so that those left out cannot block progress.
  • Expertise:  All relevant points of view should be represented so that informed and intelligent decisions can be made.
  • Credibility:  The group should be seen and respected by all so that the group’s pronouncements will be taken seriously by others.
  • Leadership:  The group should have enough proven leaders able to drive the change process.

Creating a powerful guiding coalition means the team needs to develop trust in one another. They need a shared goal so that they can make the needed change happen, despite all of the forces of inertia and resistance they may find.

Meanwhile…

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

 

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leading Change – do you have a great vision?

A great vision needs to be about the future but it will fail if it is not firmly rooted in the present. You may wish to change a group but you can’t ignore its history, culture and organization.  Most of all you need to make sure there is a connection to its values.

This is where those who are new to the organization sometimes come adrift when leading and managing change.  Even if you are trying to move existing values on, you cannot totally ignore them in your vision for the future.  Somehow in your change, those in the existing organization need to feel that their present values are being honoured.

Your vision needs to have roots but it needs to be future focussed and challenging – it needs to reflect and set high standards, and high ideals.  Make your vision something that people will want to live up to.  That means it will keep chins high when you hit the difficult patches!

Your vision should inspire – you want it to raise enthusiasm and commitment. It is much more likely to do that if it touches the needs and aspirations of all those who have a stake in it.  This includes not only those inside the organization but also clients, customers, users and, if possible, your suppliers.

Make sure your vision can be understood – communicate it well.  Make it clear and unambiguous! Paint pictures when you talk about it that people can take away and imagine for themselves.  Make this a future they can see in their minds and want to be a part of.

Make your vision unique and distinctive – not to be confused with where we said we were going five years ago.  This must be special.

Above all make your vision ambitious!  Make sure that people can see that real progress will have been made when your vision is achieved.  This should be a vision that expands everyone’s horizons.

So to sum up your vision needs to be

  1. Appropriate to your history, culture and values
  2. Challenging with high standards and high ideals
  3. Inspirational
  4. Aspirational – reflecting the aspirations of all those with an interest
  5. Understandable
  6. Distinctive
  7. Ambitious

I’d love to hear you experience of working with visions – what has worked for you and what has not worked?

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – deciding who leads!

Challenge kart

Last week I wrote about putting a group together to lead your change – creating a guiding coalition (Kotter Stage 3).

This group needs to include both managers and leaders and they will work together as a team.  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders will drive the change.

A group with good managers but poor leaders is likely to produce plans but have no compelling vision. It will not communicate the need for change well enough for it to become meaningful –  it will control rather than empower people.

While a group that has all leaders and no managers is unlikely to be organized enough to create the short-term wins necessary to keep others on board for the long-haul – it will not sustain a change initiative.

You need a group that can convince people that change is necessary in the short term.  Then keep them actively engaged through-out the process, so that you can achieve the long-term goal.

Has your organization has been successful in the recent past?  Then if you look hard enough, you will probably find effective change leaders and managers throughout your organization!  You just have to find them.  They don’t necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy.

If the organization has not been successful for a long time then you have a challenge.  You will need to seek out the good, work with the less good and, if possible, make sure the organization imports some capable fresh blood and embeds and empowers the individuals quickly.  This change will require a very experienced change facilitator fully backed by the top team

To lead and manage  change, you need to bring together a group whose power comes from a variety of sources including; job title, status, expertise, political importance and, just sometimes, sheer force of personality, in other words, charisma!

How to put a group together in four (not always easy) steps:

  • Go out and find the true leaders and strong managers in your organization.
  • Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people – explain to them why you need the change..
  • Work on team building within your change coalition.
  • Check your team for weak areas  and ensure that you have a good mix of people from different departments and different levels within your company.

I would welcome your thoughts on this and, of course,  I am very happy to answer your questions

Related articles

  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help!(wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition

President George W. Bush, left center, joins f...

I’ve written quite a bit here about the Kotter approach to change.  In a recent a recent post, I dealt with his Stage One and creating a sense of urgency.  This post deals with Stage Two – forming a powerful coalition to lead and manage the change.

After 30 years of research Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organizations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides a way of delivering and embedding large scale organizational change.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon the simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  But the underlying principles are the same.

In a world requiring ultimate flexibility an organization’s ability to deal successfully with change is a key ingredient in its overall success.

Step Two – Creating a Powerful Coalition

No one person, however competent, is capable single handedly of developing the right vision, communicating it to vast numbers of people, eliminating all of the obstacles, generating short term wins, leading and managing dozens of change projects and anchoring new approaches deep in an organization’s culture.

Putting together the right people to lead and manage  the change initiative is critical to its success.   It needs visible support from key people through out your organization.  You must find the right people, instill in them a significant level of trust and develop a shared objective.

You need people who have the right credibility within the organization.  Otherwise things will go limp and the change will simply go to pieces and fritter away leaving the organization weaker than it was before.

You need a  team of leaders and managers that can act in concert and make productive decisions that will be taken seriously by all!  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders drive the change..

An effective guiding coalition should have

  • Position Power:  Enough key players on board so that those left out cannot block progress.
  • Expertise:  All relevant points of view should be represented so that informed and intelligent decisions can be made.
  • Credibility:  The group should be seen and respected by all so that the group’s pronouncements will be taken seriously by others.
  • Leadership:  The group should have enough proven leaders able to drive the change process.

The team needs to develop trust in one another and a shared goal so that they can make the needed change happen, despite all of the forces of inertia and resistance they find.

My next post will deal with how you choose the group.  But in the mean time I would welcome your thoughts.

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme.  Wendy is author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss.”  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials (theascdoctor.com)

Leading Change – bad advice and frightening people!

October 4: Optical Boundaries: An Evening of 1...

I wanted to take my earlier post on creating urgency further today and discuss how you can avoid creating panic.  So I started to do some research.

On what is a very “well respected” website that probably should be nameless,  I came across the following headline

“Let it rip: announcing change all at once may hurt in the short term, but it gets the pain over with quickly and then employees can move on!”

Further on in the same article I came across the following,  from a communications’ consultancy in response to the question of why change announcements are often badly received.

“They don’t take change well because when it comes to communicating changes to employees, every company does it badly.”

You could say they would say that wouldn’t they.  But I regard it as a dangerous statement and the degree of naivety around both these pieces of advice is sad to behold!

Yes, people do need the truth about change and as much information as you can give them about how it is going to affect them. You need to tell them what you know and what you don’t know and how you are going to bridge the gap.

But you don’t let rip!  That way lies panic!

Information needs to be given in a measured and honest way.

However well you do it, if it is a significant change, I am afraid there is likely to be pain.  And, no, it won’t be over quickly because you “let rip”!  But being honest and conveying the message (and your vision) well, can lessen the pain and avoid panic.

All kinds of feelings may emerge when people are faced with change.  How the message is conveyed is only part of the picture.

Nor is it true that every company does it badly but unfortunately many don’t do it well.

So on Friday, I’ll be writing here about how to give your own people bad news and how to control your own feelings in the process.   I want you to be able to do your best to help them!

In the meantime, I’d welcome your thoughts and observations.

Related articles

  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Your Sense of Urgency (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • Business Change: A Sense of Urgency (martinwebster.eu)

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)786768143

Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help!


Do you need to make a change in your organisation?  Does the prospect feel overwhelming?  Well why not use the simplest model of change – the Freeze Phase Model, also known as Square-Blob-Star!  This post tells you how to use it!  If you care about leading you organisation well and if you are committed to being a good manager, you have all you need need to implement this approach well!

This post appeared on my blog in July 2009.  It is one of the most popular pieces here and I believe that many readers have found it useful!  So I am have revamped it slightly with some links to techniques to use when you implement the model.  I’ve seen this approach work many times.  I wish you luck with your change and if you would like further advice, please get in touch!

In the early 20th century, psychologist Kurt Lewin identified three stages of change that are still the basis of many approaches today.

UNFREEZE

People like to feel safe and in control and their sense of identity is tied into their present environment particularly if it has been relatively stable for a while!  This creates a feeling of comfort and any challenges to it even those which may offer significant benefit, can cause discomfort. See why change hurts! Talking about the future is rarely enough to move them from this ‘frozen’ state and significant work is usually required to ‘unfreeze’ them and get them moving.  In frustration some managers may revert to using a Push method to get them moving – coercing them into a change.  The Pull method of leadership, persuasion and modeling behavior takes longer but has a much better long term effect . The term ‘change ready’ is often used to describe people who are unfrozen and ready to take the next step. Some people come ready for change whilst others take a long time to let go of their comfortable current realities.

TRANSITION

For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.  A classic trap in change is for the leaders to spend months on their own personal journeys and then expect everyone else to cross the chasm in a single bound. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support!   But sometimes  transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

REFREEZE

At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing the new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture.  In practice, refreezing may be a slow process as transitions seldom stop cleanly, but go more in fits and starts with a long tail of bits and pieces. There are good and bad things about this.   In modern organizations, this stage is often rather tentative as the next change may well be around the next corner. What is often encouraged, then, is more of a state of ‘slushiness’ where freezing is never really achieved (theoretically making the next unfreezing easier). The danger with this that many organizations have found is that people fall into a state of change shock, where they work at a low level of efficiency and effectiveness as they await the next change.

You can find out more at the following links

More of the Freeze Phase/Square-Blob-Star Model – general introduction continued

Getting ready for the Change (Unfreeze) – some unfreezing techniques

Helping people to change (Transition) – constructive ways to manage transition

Completing the Change (Refreeze) – constructive ways to embed the change and make sure it sticks


Heros – Gurus of Change Mnagement

The outstanding names in the field of Change Management whose work has been and continues to be widely quoted  – all have drawn primarily on case studies largely connected with their own consulting practices. These ‘change gurus’ are John Kotter, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Warren Bennis, Chris Argyris, Charles Handy, Ed Schein and Andrew Pettigrew.

All have advanced the field substantially with detailed qualitative analyses of successful and unsuccessful change programs. From reflection on their extensive experience with organizational change, they have developed descriptive schemas to describe key phases in corporate change and prescriptive formulae for effectively managing these stages. We should be grateful to all – there are others

John Kotter

Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on leadership and change.  His is the premier voice on how the best organizations actually “do” change.

In his newest work, A Sense of Urgency, Kotter shows what a true sense of urgency in an organization really is, why it is becoming an exceptionally important asset, and how it can be created and sustained within organizations.

John Kotter’s international bestseller Leading Change—which outlined an actionable, eight-step process for implementing successful transformations—has become the change bible for managers around the world

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the “50 most powerful women in the world” (Times of London), and the “50 most influential business thinkers in the world” (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management’s Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named “Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year” by the World Teleport Association.

Professor Kanter is the author or co-author of 17 books, which have been translated into 17 languages.  Her recent book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End (a New York Times business and #1 Business Week bestseller), describes the culture and dynamics of high-performance organizations as compared with those in decline, and shows how to lead turnarounds, whether in businesses, hospitals, schools, sports teams, community organizations, or countries.

Warren Bennis,

Warren Bennis (born 1925) is a laid-back silver-haired professor at the University of Southern California who has been an influential authority on leadership for decades. He has been consulted on the subject by at least four American presidents and by some of the best-known occupants of corporate boardrooms around the world.

His fundamental tenet is that leaders are made, not born. The worst problem they can face, says Bennis, is “early success. There’s no opportunity to learn from adversity and problems”. Other myths about leadership that he dismisses are that it is a rare skill; that leaders are charismatic (most of them are quite ordinary people); and that leaders control and manipulate (they do not; they align the energies of others behind an attractive goal).

Being a leader is very different from being a manager, says Bennis. So being a manager in an organisation is not necessarily the best training for being the leader of that organisation. But it is the only training that most CEOs get for the job. Managers, however, can learn to be leaders. “I believe in ‘possible selves’,” Bennis has written, “the capacity to adapt and change.”

“I think a lot of the leaders I’ve spoken to give expression to their feminine side. Many male leaders are almost bisexual in their ability to be open and reflective…Gender is not the determining factor.”

In “Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge”, Bennis lists four competencies that leaders need to develop:

• forming a vision which provides people with a bridge to the future;

• giving meaning to that vision through communication;

• building trust, “the lubrication that makes it possible for organisations to work”;

• searching for self-knowledge and self-regard.

Chris Argyris

Chris Argyris  is an American business theorist, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, and a Thought Leader at Monitor Group. He is commonly known for seminal work in the area of “Learning Organizations”.

Action Science, one of Argyris’ collaborative works with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith, developed together with Donald Schön as well, advocates an approach to research that focuses on generating knowledge that is useful in solving practical problems. Other key concepts developed by Argyris include Ladder of Inference, Double-Loop Learning, Theory of Action/Espoused Theory/Theory-in-use, High Advocacy/High Inquiry dialogue and Actionable Knowledge.

Chris Argyris’ early research explored the impact of formal organizational structures, control systems and management on individuals and how they responded and adapted to them. This research resulted in the books Personality and Organization, 1957 and Integrating the Individual and the Organization, 1964. He then shifted his focus to organizational change, in particular exploring the behaviour of senior executives in organizations (Interpersonal Competence and Organizational Effectiveness, 1962; Organization and Innovation, 1965).

From there he moved onto an inquiry into the role of the social scientist as both researcher and actor (Intervention Theory and Method, 1970; Inner Contradictions of Rigorous Research, 1980 and Action Science, 1985 – with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith). His fourth major area of research and theorizing – in significant part undertaken with Donald Schön – was in individual and organizational learning and the extent to which human reasoning, not just behavior, can become the basis for diagnosis and action (Theory in Practice, 1974 ; Organizational Learning, 1978; Organizational Learning II, 1996 – all with Donald Schön). He has also developed this thinking in Overcoming Organizational Defenses, 1990 and Knowledge for Action, 1993.

Charles Handy

Charles Handy (born 1932) is the son of an Irish Protestant vicar whose broad interests spread from religion and philosophy to the organisation of the workplace. In “The Gods of Management” he identified four different management cultures which he likened to four Greek gods: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus and Zeus. His vivid use of metaphor and his accessible writing style have made his books extremely popular. It was once said of Peter Drucker ( that he was a man “practising the scholarship of common sense”. Charles Handy added “I would like that to be said of me.”

Handy began his career as an employee of Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil company, and was sent to work on a drilling operation in the jungles of Borneo, where he made mistakes and was given (as he put it) a chance to redeem himself. He later vividly described how little relation his life on the job had to the goal he had been given by corporate headquarters—namely, to maximise the company’s return on equity. Handy’s subsequent written work has almost always been a search for ways in which companies can go beyond the pure pursuit of profit. How can they be transformed into communities and soar above being mere properties to be bought and sold?

Based for most of his working life in Britain, Handy became the UK’s leading management spokesperson. He came up with catchy concepts such as “the shamrock organisation” (which, like the eponymous plant, has three leaves: management; specialists; and an increasingly flexible labour force) and “portfolio working”, a lifestyle in which the individual holds a number of “jobs, clients and types of work” all at the same time.

Handy’s main interest was organisations, and his message was that they are “not machines that can be neatly designed, mapped, measured and controlled”. He once used his experience of moving his kitchen seven times within the same house as a lesson to managers who try to fit “a modern organisation into old-fashioned spaces”.

“I told my children when they were leaving education that they would be well advised to look for customers not bosses.”

He had a key role in shaping British management education in the 1960s and 1970s. After a year in Boston observing MIT’s way of teaching business, he returned to Britain, a country that had no management education other than the ersatz activities that then passed for it—an accountancy training or a spell in the British army. On his return he helped set up London Business School, drawing heavily on educational programmes (the MBA in particular) that he had much admired in America.

Later on he seemed to have some regrets about this. While accountants were not trained to be managers, he wrote in “Myself and Other More Important Matters”, “the way they and their kindred professions of law, medicine and architecture had been educating their future professionals did seem to have stood the test of time. They all consistently mixed formal learning with some form of apprenticeship.” As The Economist once said of Handy  “More common sense is what he stands for, and fewer common rooms.”

Notable publications

“The Empty Raincoat”, Hutchinson, 1994

“The Gods of Management”, Pan, 1985; new edn, Arrow, 1995

“The Age of Unreason”, Hutchinson Business, 1989; 2nd edn, Arrow, 1995

“Myself and Other More Important Matters”, Heinemann, 2006

Ed Schein

Ed Schein was educated at the University of Chicago, at Stanford University where he received a Masters Degree in Psychology in 1949, and at Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. in social psychology in 1952. He was Chief of the Social Psychology Section of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research while serving in the U.S. Army as Captain from 1952 to 1956. He joined MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 1956 and was made a Professor of Organizational Psychology and Management in 1964.

From 1968 to 1971 Schein was the Undergraduate Planning Professor for MIT, and in 1972 he became the Chairman of the Organization Studies Group of the MIT Sloan School, a position he held until 1982. He was honored in 1978 when he was named the Sloan Fellows Professor of Management, a Chair he held until 1990.

At the present he is Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus and continues at the Sloan School part time as a Senior Lecturer. He is also the Founding Editor of “Reflections” the Journal of the Society for Organizational Learning devoted to connecting academics, consultants, and practitioners around the issues of knowledge creation, dissemination and utilization.

Schein has been a prolific researcher, writer, teacher and consultant. Besides his numerous articles in professional journals he has authored fourteen books including Organizational Psychology (3d edit., 1980), Career Dynamics (1978), Organizational Culture and Leadership (1985, 1992, 2004), and Process Consultation Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (1969, 1987, 1988), Process Consultation Revisited (1999), and The Corporate Culture Survival Guide (1999).

Andrew Pettigrew

Andrew Pettigrew OBE is Professor of Strategy and Organisation at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. A British professor, he was formerly dean of the University of Bath School of Management. He received his training in sociology and anthropology at Liverpool University and received his Ph.D from Manchester Business School in 1970. He has held academic appointments at Yale University, Harvard University London Business School and Warwick Business School.

Pettigrew has published many academic papers and books that consider the human, political, and social aspects of organisations and their strategies in contrast to the purely economic view in which the main unit of analysis is the firm or industry as typified by Michael Porter. This is known as the strategy process school as opposed to the strategy content school.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[1]

Despite his intellectual preference for fewer distinctions between content, process, and context, he still tends to be viewed as a researcher in the process tradition simply because it, as he, is interested in more than static decisions. He argues (2003b) that:

  • The link between formulation and implementation is not unilinear but interrelated time
  • Understanding the change associated with strategy requires understanding of continuity over time
  • Strategy, and its impact on future outcomes, are shaped by power and politics

This view of strategy requires the strategy researcher to be historian, anthropologist, and political analyst.

Pettigrew, AM, Strategy as Process, Power, and Change, in Cummings, S, & Wilson, D, (2003b), Images of Strategy, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 301-330

HEROES – GURUS OF CHANGE

The outstanding names in the field of Change Management whose work has been and continues to be widely quoted  – all have drawn primarily on case studies largely connected with their own consulting practices. These ‘change gurus’ are John Kotter, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Warren Bennis, Chris Argyris, Charles Handy, Ed Schein and Andrew Pettigrew.

All have advanced the field substantially with detailed qualitative analyses of successful and unsuccessful change programs. From reflection on their extensive experience with organizational change, they have developed descriptive schemas to describe key phases in corporate change and prescriptive formulae for effectively managing these stages. We should be grateful to all – there are others

John Kotter

Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on leadership and change.  His is the premier voice on how the best organizations actually “do” change.

In his newest work, A Sense of Urgency, Kotter shows what a true sense of urgency in an organization really is, why it is becoming an exceptionally important asset, and how it can be created and sustained within organizations.

John Kotter’s international bestseller Leading Change—which outlined an actionable, eight-step process for implementing successful transformations—has become the change bible for managers around the world

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the “50 most powerful women in the world” (Times of London), and the “50 most influential business thinkers in the world” (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management’s Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named “Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year” by the World Teleport Association.

Professor Kanter is the author or co-author of 17 books, which have been translated into 17 languages.  Her recent book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End (a New York Times business and #1 Business Week bestseller), describes the culture and dynamics of high-performance organizations as compared with those in decline, and shows how to lead turnarounds, whether in businesses, hospitals, schools, sports teams, community organizations, or countries.

Warren Bennis,

Warren Bennis (born 1925) is a laid-back silver-haired professor at the University of Southern California who has been an influential authority on leadership for decades. He has been consulted on the subject by at least four American presidents and by some of the best-known occupants of corporate boardrooms around the world.

His fundamental tenet is that leaders are made, not born. The worst problem they can face, says Bennis, is “early success. There’s no opportunity to learn from adversity and problems”. Other myths about leadership that he dismisses are that it is a rare skill; that leaders are charismatic (most of them are quite ordinary people); and that leaders control and manipulate (they do not; they align the energies of others behind an attractive goal).

Being a leader is very different from being a manager, says Bennis. So being a manager in an organisation is not necessarily the best training for being the leader of that organisation. But it is the only training that most CEOs get for the job. Managers, however, can learn to be leaders. “I believe in ‘possible selves’,” Bennis has written, “the capacity to adapt and change.”

“I think a lot of the leaders I’ve spoken to give expression to their feminine side. Many male leaders are almost bisexual in their ability to be open and reflective…Gender is not the determining factor.”

In “Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge”, Bennis lists four competencies that leaders need to develop:

• forming a vision which provides people with a bridge to the future;

• giving meaning to that vision through communication;

• building trust, “the lubrication that makes it possible for organisations to work”;

• searching for self-knowledge and self-regard.

Chris Argyris

Chris Argyris  is an American business theorist, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, and a Thought Leader at Monitor Group. He is commonly known for seminal work in the area of “Learning Organizations”.

Action Science, one of Argyris’ collaborative works with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith, developed together with Donald Schön as well, advocates an approach to research that focuses on generating knowledge that is useful in solving practical problems. Other key concepts developed by Argyris include Ladder of Inference, Double-Loop Learning, Theory of Action/Espoused Theory/Theory-in-use, High Advocacy/High Inquiry dialogue and Actionable Knowledge.

Chris Argyris’ early research explored the impact of formal organizational structures, control systems and management on individuals and how they responded and adapted to them. This research resulted in the books Personality and Organization, 1957 and Integrating the Individual and the Organization, 1964. He then shifted his focus to organizational change, in particular exploring the behaviour of senior executives in organizations (Interpersonal Competence and Organizational Effectiveness, 1962; Organization and Innovation, 1965).

From there he moved onto an inquiry into the role of the social scientist as both researcher and actor (Intervention Theory and Method, 1970; Inner Contradictions of Rigorous Research, 1980 and Action Science, 1985 – with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith). His fourth major area of research and theorizing – in significant part undertaken with Donald Schön – was in individual and organizational learning and the extent to which human reasoning, not just behavior, can become the basis for diagnosis and action (Theory in Practice, 1974 ; Organizational Learning, 1978; Organizational Learning II, 1996 – all with Donald Schön). He has also developed this thinking in Overcoming Organizational Defenses, 1990 and Knowledge for Action, 1993.

Charles Handy

Charles Handy (born 1932) is the son of an Irish Protestant vicar whose broad interests spread from religion and philosophy to the organisation of the workplace. In “The Gods of Management” he identified four different management cultures which he likened to four Greek gods: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus and Zeus. His vivid use of metaphor and his accessible writing style have made his books extremely popular. It was once said of Peter Drucker ( that he was a man “practising the scholarship of common sense”. Charles Handy added “I would like that to be said of me.”

Handy began his career as an employee of Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil company, and was sent to work on a drilling operation in the jungles of Borneo, where he made mistakes and was given (as he put it) a chance to redeem himself. He later vividly described how little relation his life on the job had to the goal he had been given by corporate headquarters—namely, to maximise the company’s return on equity. Handy’s subsequent written work has almost always been a search for ways in which companies can go beyond the pure pursuit of profit. How can they be transformed into communities and soar above being mere properties to be bought and sold?

Based for most of his working life in Britain, Handy became the UK’s leading management spokesperson. He came up with catchy concepts such as “the shamrock organisation” (which, like the eponymous plant, has three leaves: management; specialists; and an increasingly flexible labour force) and “portfolio working”, a lifestyle in which the individual holds a number of “jobs, clients and types of work” all at the same time.

Handy’s main interest was organisations, and his message was that they are “not machines that can be neatly designed, mapped, measured and controlled”. He once used his experience of moving his kitchen seven times within the same house as a lesson to managers who try to fit “a modern organisation into old-fashioned spaces”.

“I told my children when they were leaving education that they would be well advised to look for customers not bosses.”

He had a key role in shaping British management education in the 1960s and 1970s. After a year in Boston observing MIT’s way of teaching business, he returned to Britain, a country that had no management education other than the ersatz activities that then passed for it—an accountancy training or a spell in the British army. On his return he helped set up London Business School, drawing heavily on educational programmes (the MBA in particular) that he had much admired in America.

Later on he seemed to have some regrets about this. While accountants were not trained to be managers, he wrote in “Myself and Other More Important Matters”, “the way they and their kindred professions of law, medicine and architecture had been educating their future professionals did seem to have stood the test of time. They all consistently mixed formal learning with some form of apprenticeship.” As The Economist once said of Handy  “More common sense is what he stands for, and fewer common rooms.”

Notable publications

“The Empty Raincoat”, Hutchinson, 1994

“The Gods of Management”, Pan, 1985; new edn, Arrow, 1995

“The Age of Unreason”, Hutchinson Business, 1989; 2nd edn, Arrow, 1995

“Myself and Other More Important Matters”, Heinemann, 2006

Ed Schein

Ed Schein was educated at the University of Chicago, at Stanford University where he received a Masters Degree in Psychology in 1949, and at Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. in social psychology in 1952. He was Chief of the Social Psychology Section of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research while serving in the U.S. Army as Captain from 1952 to 1956. He joined MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 1956 and was made a Professor of Organizational Psychology and Management in 1964.

From 1968 to 1971 Schein was the Undergraduate Planning Professor for MIT, and in 1972 he became the Chairman of the Organization Studies Group of the MIT Sloan School, a position he held until 1982. He was honored in 1978 when he was named the Sloan Fellows Professor of Management, a Chair he held until 1990.

At the present he is Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus and continues at the Sloan School part time as a Senior Lecturer. He is also the Founding Editor of “Reflections” the Journal of the Society for Organizational Learning devoted to connecting academics, consultants, and practitioners around the issues of knowledge creation, dissemination and utilization.

Schein has been a prolific researcher, writer, teacher and consultant. Besides his numerous articles in professional journals he has authored fourteen books including Organizational Psychology (3d edit., 1980), Career Dynamics (1978), Organizational Culture and Leadership (1985, 1992, 2004), and Process Consultation Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (1969, 1987, 1988), Process Consultation Revisited (1999), and The Corporate Culture Survival Guide (1999).

Andrew Pettigrew

Andrew Pettigrew OBE is Professor of Strategy and Organisation at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. A British professor, he was formerly dean of the University of Bath School of Management. He received his training in sociology and anthropology at Liverpool University and received his Ph.D from Manchester Business School in 1970. He has held academic appointments at Yale University, Harvard University London Business School and Warwick Business School.

Pettigrew has published many academic papers and books that consider the human, political, and social aspects of organisations and their strategies in contrast to the purely economic view in which the main unit of analysis is the firm or industry as typified by Michael Porter. This is known as the strategy process school as opposed to the strategy content school.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[1]

Despite his intellectual preference for fewer distinctions between content, process, and context, he still tends to be viewed as a researcher in the process tradition simply because it, as he, is interested in more than static decisions. He argues (2003b) that:

  • The link between formulation and implementation is not unilinear but interrelated time
  • Understanding the change associated with strategy requires understanding of continuity over time
  • Strategy, and its impact on future outcomes, are shaped by power and politics

This view of strategy requires the strategy researcher to be historian, anthropologist, and political analyst.

Pettigrew, AM, Strategy as Process, Power, and Change, in Cummings, S, & Wilson, D, (2003b), Images of Strategy, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 301-330